Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Luigi's Mansion 2 - 3DS

When the ever bashful Luigi reluctantly entered the spotlight without his more famous brother in 2002's Luigi's Mansion - a GameCube launch title - there was a smattering of grumbling from some, who were disappointed that Nintendo chose not to unveil a fresh Mario platformer to kick-start their dinky box of tricks.
    However, Luigi's Mansion - despite being a rather short caper used mostly to highlight the GameCube's technical fizz - proved to be an enjoyable little gem, which is now, I'm happy to say, fondly remembered.
    Earlier this year, Nintendo finally saw fit to release a spooky sequel and with Halloween only a few days away, it's the perfect time to revisit this gem of a game on 3DS.
    Professor E. Gadd has been happily studying ghostly goings-on in a variety of spooky locales when the Dark Moon above his base in Evershade Valley shatters, turning the once friendly apparitions into mischievous rascals. Who better to sort out this phantom menace than the experienced - if utterly terrified - Luigi? Armed with the wonderfully titled Poltergust 5000, Luigi reluctantly agrees to help the professor by Hoovering up these translucent tykes across five sprawling levels and restore some sanity back to the once peaceful valley.
    The Poltergust 5000 might be nothing more than a modified vacuum cleaner, but it's not just for cleaning up dusty corners and sucking up cobwebs. Luigi uses it to capture ghosts of all shapes and sizes, but first he must stun them with his trusty torch. What follows is a paranormal game of tug of war, as Luigi clatters around the fabulously detailed rooms, frantically wrestling with the obstinate spooks. It's a hugely enjoyable activity, too, and it can be quite a challenge thanks to a decent variety of ghosts who are intent on making life as uncomfortable as possible for the industrious Luigi.
    Later in the game, new elements are added which make Luigi's task even harder, but it rarely becomes frustrating and causes the player to think quickly and change tactics on the fly.
   But even when he's not ghostbusting, Luigi has plenty to keep him occupied. The five huge locations Luigi is forced to visit contain a wonderful array of fiendish puzzles and it's to the game's credit that they never feel stale or lose their focus throughout the course of the lengthy adventure.
    Exploration is a key element and rooting around in gloomy corners amply rewards the player, with the Poltergust 5000 used to snaffle out of reach coins, pull dusty curtains away from grimy windows to reveal shiny trinkets, blow aside rugs to reveal secret switches, and expose glittering gems which had previously been squirrelled away in the game's glorious environments. The whole experience is underpinned with eye-popping art direction, amazing animation, a terrific soundtrack, an extraordinary eye for detail, while a healthy seam of humour runs throughout, causing the player to chuckle away at some of the ludicrous sights.
    While the haunted environments he scuttles around in are magnificent, it's Luigi himself who proves to be the star of the show. He nervously glances around as he creeps about, leaps in the air with a startled yelp if he discovers a supernatural spectacle and all the while his wee knees knock together in terrified tension. He also hums to himself to keep his flagging spirits up, an act which is beautifully choreographed with the game's soundtrack.
    But Luigi's latest adventure isn't perfect and it occasionally stumbles. The constant interruptions from the professor - he contacts Luigi via a bit of technical wizardry in the shape of a humble Nintendo DS far too often - quickly begins to grate, while the mission-based structure of the game can be annoying. Too often Luigi is teleported back to the prof's lab just when things are getting interesting, leaving the player slightly frustrated that they can't snoop around and explore to their heart’s content. I suppose the bite-sized missions have been crafted to suit the mobile nature of the 3DS but it's still frustrating when all the player wants to do is see what new terrors lurk around the next corner.
    Multiplayer has been included, which sees teams of up to four people - either online or via local multiplayer - partake in three ghostly activities. These provide short-term fun, but never match the sheer scope and variety of the single player campaign.
    An intelligent and instantly appealing game, Luigi's Mansion 2 is bursting with creative ideas which, for the most part, are implemented perfectly. So this Halloween lock the door, turn out the lights, put the headphones on and experience one of the finest games on 3DS.

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